Monday, December 03, 2007

Guilty Pleasure: Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl Cast Serena Nate Dan Blair Chuck Jenny

If you are female, under 35 and live in Manhattan, chances are that you watch television's newest vice: Gossip Girl. It's a sherbet light froth, more believable than The OC, & as addictive as 90210 in its heyday. (Now I'm showing my age), Set on in the world of private schools, & millionaire parents, these High School-ers exist on cocktails & thin air, shag for, well, Manhattan, & party for America. It's no wonder it's become so popular: it's executive producer is Josh Schwartz, who conceived The OC.

I may be (sometimes) a proper grown up with a serious job in the fashion world, but this is my weekly dose of escapism. All my girlfriends here are equally obsessed - and we are in our 30's and, I suppose, could be said to know better. But sod it, I like fluff as much as I do more cerebral pursuits, and I'm happy to say so.

Gossip Girl is based on the popular novel series of the same name written by Cecily von Ziegesar, which shines a spotlight on the lives of six teenagers attending private school on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Nan Zhang Katy, Leighton Meester Blair, Nicole Fiscella Isabel GOSSIP GIRL
Blair and sidekicks.

Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) and best friend Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) are the two key female leads, and slated to be the Mischa Bartons of their generation. Blair's boyfriend Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford), trust funder Chuck Bass -(played by you'd-never-guess-it-but-he's-English Ed Westwick) and the outsider Humphrey siblings from hipster Williamsburg Dan (Penn Badgley) and Jenny (Taylor Momsen) complete the key characters. The series is narrated by "Gossip Girl" (the voice of Kristen Bell), who writes an onlooker's blog which continually stirs up trouble.

GOSSIP GIRL Blake Lively Serena Nate Chuck Dan

Serena, Dan, Nate & Chuck.

The costumes rock too, less costume-y than Sex & The City, which went beyond parody in the last couple of series, generally making guys of the actresses. The designer is Eric Daman, who was an assistant designer on SATC, and also styles for i-D. Although I've yet to meet a schoolgirl who wears $900 Clergerie boots or $500 sequin Tory Burch frocks, they look hot enough on Blake Lively aka Serena van der Woodsen to make me seriously consider some copy-cat retail.

And it's not just the clothes that rock, the music does too. In the same way that she broke niche bands on The OC to a wider audience (Death Cab for Cutie, the Shins), Gossip Girl's music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas, has picked up on new NYC bands like The Virgins, who she mixes in with acts like The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Amy Winehouse, Feist, Air & The Bravery.

It certainly has its ridiculous side: all the mothers look about five years older than their daughters, which isn't surprising considering that Serena & Blair both look 25 rather than seventeen. All the teens drinks like fishes, and have no problems getting into bars & clubs where they suck down martinis like Kool-Aid.

Blake Lively Serena Gossip Girl

Serena: Seventeen, going on thirty.

Rumour has it that Gossip Girl's been bought by ITV2. Every time I try to describe it to my London-based girlfriends, all I have to do is say , "better than 90210" and I have instant converts: I predict the next UK cult show. (Let's just hope the Writers' Strike is resolved soon - they've only shot 12 out of the 22 episodes slated for this season.)